Game Recap: European W
Edinburgh Rugby put in a colossal performance to claim an impressive opening round win away to Saracens in this season’s EPCR Challenge Cup.
We look at five key moments that helped the capital side on their way to a famous road victory in our Game Recap:
Savala’s moment of magic
The fixture was a physical and tactical encounter, however Savala provided a moment of genuine stardust to swing the game in Edinburgh’s favour.
Starting just his second game for the club could have been daunting for the 21-year-old, instead he displayed confidence in his abilities to deliver a perfect chip to the corner to put Ramiro Moyano over the whitewash.
Head Coach Mike Blair signalled Savala’s attacking abilities in the build-up to the game, and the former rugby league half-back delivered in spades.
A strong scrum gave Edinburgh a perfect attacking platform before striking from first phase to catch Saracens by surprise - a moment of brilliance against one of Europe’s elite sides.
Argentine international Emiliano Boffelli arrived in Edinburgh with the reputation of a player with a huge boot, and the Puma didn’t disappoint in difficult conditions at StoneX Stadium.
Edinburgh’s scrum dominance gave Boffelli two opportunities to slot penalties from the half-way line and the full-back thundered both over with yards to spare.
The full-back finished the game with 11-points, each coming at vital moments to relieve pressure and swing momentum in Edinburgh’s favour. Boffelli was outstanding around the park, picking up Player of the Match for a solid display in wet conditions.
Edinburgh’s brick wall
With the game in the balance, every point was vital and Edinburgh defended like their lives depended on it to prevent Saracens from converting their attacking opportunities.
The visitors held a slender one-point lead heading into the final ten minutes of the first half and absorbed a phenomenal amount of pressure to maintain their advantage going into the second half.
Saracens have built a reputation as a side that eventually wears down a defence, often scoring tries at vital moments in games. Edinburgh had other ideas though, putting their bodies on the line to bat back the English side, giving themselves the platform to claim the win.
WP Nel rolls back the years
Scrum dominance can change games and boy did WP Nel play a big role against Saracens. The Edinburgh scrum was firmly on top through the match, however, the big turning point was Nel’s demolition job with 20 minutes left on the clock.
A big nudge forced his opposite man to collapse the scrum – Mawi earning a yellow card in the process – and from the resulting field position Nel was able to crash over the line to put Edinburgh in the lead going into the closing stages.
The score was thoroughly deserved, with the experienced campaigner giving the capital side set-piece edge while he was on the pitch.
Henry Pyrgos has now put in momentum changing appearances from the bench in back-to-back games. The capital fans know about Pyrgos’ excellent box-kicking ability, and he was able to put those skills to good use to add some control to proceedings.
The big moment from Pyrgos came on the 75-minute mark with the visitors under the pump. The scrum half made an excellent defensive read to smash his opposite number, turning over the ball in the process.
Saracens would still return to Edinburgh territory before the game was done, but Pyrgos’ huge defensive read gave Edinburgh vital breathing space going into the grandstand finale.